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Digital Perspectives
New views. Applied now.

Digital Perspectives

New Views. Applied Now.

January 25, 2018
Pivot the workforce and unlock new value with AI
By: Payal Vasudeva

Pivot the Workforce and Unlock New Value With AI

In this blog series I’m looking at the changes business need to make to the workforce to capitalise on AI and the strong appetite of workers to use this technology. Here, I want to look at how workforce transformation can help firms unlock value through AI.

The value AI brings

There’s a wide range of ways in which AI, if deployed correctly, will generate value.

First, there’s efficiency: using AI to identify ways to cut costs and improve operational processes; a critical part of remaining competitive in the face of digital disruption. AI-enabled efficiency can also be used to enhance customer service. The NHS, for example, is turning to AI-enabled speech recognition to update patient records and diagnostics. The health service has successfully used AI to reduce the time to respond to letters from 15 days to five.

Efficiency isn’t enough, however. For sustained survival businesses need to proactively innovate and build disruptive services. One of the areas that AI will really help in this regard is unlocking value trapped in customer markets. Not only are their immediate growth gains to be made, but AI will result in transformative growth further down the road, creating entirely new markets much as the Internet did.  Yet few companies are positioning themselves for either the short term or long term opportunities.

 

AI in action

One company already breaking new ground is Adidas. Its new Speedfactory initiative localizes manufacturing in particular markets to meet demand for personalized products. Everything from design to manufacturing is done locally. Importantly, it requires a pivot to a highly specialized workforce of tailors, process engineers and others working closely with intelligent technology. People and robots collaborate in a series of overlapping production steps. Human hands are required, for example, to finally shape shoes that have been co-designed by computers and people.

In our recent survey of CEO attitudes towards AI, which we launched at WEF 2018, business leaders seem to recognise the power of AI and humans to collaborate to create new customer experiences and business models. Seventy-two percent agree that adopting intelligent technologies will be critical to their organisation’s ability to differentiate in the market. Moreover, 48% think smarter decision-making can only be achieved by intelligent technologies that generate information in real-time.

Pivoting the workforce

Pivoting the workforce is inseparable from digital business transformation. It requires a gradual shift where organisations continue to invest in legacy business models while allocating increasing amounts of capital to the new business. It’s all about balance, and knowing when to make the change to the new without diminishing the profits still available in the old.

As AI becomes more important, therefore, businesses will need to shift the workforce to synchronise with their unique AI-enabled value propositions. And as AI delivers new efficiencies, the best organisations will invest these wins back into the company; creating a new workforce that will propel new business models. They’ll also need to make a cultural shift, giving workers more autonomy and creating an open environment where everyone can contribute to innovation.

If you would like to read more about the steps your organisation needs to take to pivot the workforce to best exploit AI, please download our report Reworking the Revolution.

In my final blog in this series, I’ll look at the last of our three steps towards an AI-ready future workforce: the need to scale up training to ensure people are well-equipped to work with machines.

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